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LIC    AFFAIRS    PAMPHLET    No.    128 


OUR 
NEGRO  VETERANS 


jpHARLES   G.   BOLTS  AND   LOUIS   HARRIS 


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Intuprattg 
of  Zfllortna 
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OUR  NEGRO 
VETERANS 

By  CHARLES  G.  BOLTE 
and  LOUIS  HARRIS 


OUT  of  every  major  war  in  our  nation's  history  has  come  prog- 
ress for  the  American  Negro.  Yet  each  war  has  been  followed 
by  a  reaction  which  wiped  out  many  of  the  gains.  In  each  case 
there  has  been  a  clash  between  those  who  have  raised  their 
standards  of  living,  who  have  opened  new  channels  of  oppor- 
tunity, and  those  who  want  to  turn  back  the  clock  to  prewar 
conditions. 

The  American  Revolution  saw  the  rise  of  a  brisk,  mercantile 
society  and  a  Jeffersonian  outlook  in  the  North.  The  combination 
removed  all  vestiges  of  slavery  from  the  North.  But  not  long 
after,  the  booming  cotton  market  gave  rise  to  the  plantation  sys- 
tem which  firmly  implanted  slavery  in  the  South  for  the  greater 
part  of  another  century. 


The  material  in  this  pamphlet  is  based  on  a  series  of  surveys  made 
by  the  Bureau  of  the  Census,  the  National  Urban  League,  the 
Southern  Regional  Council,  and  the  American  Veterans  Com- 
mittee. 

Copyright,  1947,  by  the  Public  Affairs  Committee,  Incorporated 
—A  nonprofit,  educational  organization— 


212704 


2  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

The  Civil  War  gave  the  Negro  formal  emancipation,  the  right 
to  bear  arms  for  his  country,  and  partial  political  franchise.  But 
the  postwar  reaction  severely  curtailed  the  new-found  political 
freedom  and  reduced  Negroes  to  economic  serfdom. 

The  First  World  War  opened  Northern  industry  to  Negro 
workers  for  the  first  time.  More  than  a  million  Negroes  migrated 
to  industrial  centers.  Although  the  standard  of  living  in  the  urban 
North  was  depressed  by  all-Negro  slum  districts,  life  was  better 
than  it  had  been  under  peonage  and  tenancy  in  the  South.  The 
postwar  protest  inevitably  came,  subsequent  unemployment  pro- 
duced race  tensions  and  serious  riots,  and  Negroes  were  segregated 
in  the  North  more  strictly  than  before. 

Today,  Negro  veterans  of  World  War  II  find  themselves  in 
a  similar  crisis.  No  longer  are  Negro  troops  and  war  workers 
of  strategic  military  importance.  The  need  for  using  every  human 
and  material  resource  to  win  the  war  has  passed.  The  bargaining 
strength  of  the  Negro  population  as  a  whole  has  been  reduced. 
Greater  difficulty  is  encountered  in  combating  such  race  terror 
groups  as  the  Columbians  and  the  Ku  Klux  Klan. 

Veteran's  Problems  Intensified  for  Negroes 

Each  difficulty  confronting  veterans  as  a  whole  is  inten- 
sified for  Negro  veterans.  Veterans  generally  want  jobs  that  pay 
more;  Negro  veterans  desperately  need  jobs  of  any  kind.  Veterans 
need  housing;  the  Negro  is  always  in  dire  need  of  housing.  One 
out  of  three  white  veterans  cannot  find  adequate  educational 
and  training  facilities;  four  out  of  five  Negro  veterans  are  faced 
with  most  unsatisfactory  educational  and  training  opportunities. 
The  Negro  veteran  meets  greater  obstacles  than  the  non-Negro 
veteran  at  every  turn  for  one  reason :  his  skin  is  darker. 

What  happens  to  the  Negro  veteran  today  and  in  the  next 
five  years  is  important  to  the  nation.  America  is  at  the  crossroads 
in  its  pattern  of  race  relations.  The  Negro  veteran  has  seen  more 
of  the  world  than  the  rest  of  his  people;  he  is  the  first  to  seek 
a  new  voice  at  the  polls  in  hitherto  white  primaries;  he  is  firmer 
in  demanding  better  jobs  than  have  been  available  to  Negroes 
in  the  past;  his  potential  contribution  to  the  nation  is  greater 
in  terms  of  leadership.  He  is  also  more  likely  to  suffer  violence 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  3 

for  carrying  the  torch  of  the  Negro  postwar  protest  against  dis- 
crimination in  America. 

The  Negro  veteran  is  old  enough  to  have  killed  men  in  battle 
and  young  enough  to  look  forward  to  a  whole  lifetime  of  adult- 


VETERANS'  EDUCATIONAL  AND 

TRAINING  FACILITIES 


INADEQUATE  FOR 

ONE 

OUT  OF 

THREE 

WHITE 
VETERANS 


INADEQUATE  FOR 

FOUR  " 

OUT  OF 

FIVE 

NEGRO  VETERANS 


(Each  figure  represents  approximately  200,000  veterans.) 


HARRY  A.  HERZOG,  FOR  THE  PUBLIC  AFFAIRS  COMMITTEE,  INC 


hood.  He  wants  very  simple  things  in  life :  a  good  job,  educational 
and  vocational  guidance,  better  housing,  and  a  little  self-respect. 
He  knows  that  returning  veterans  were  supposed  to  find  these 
things.  He  knows  they  exist  in  this  land  of  ours.  But  he  does  not 
find  them.  He  is  different  from  other  veterans  only  because 
whatever  he  is  seeking  in  life  is  harder  for  him  to  attain,  what- 
ever obstacles  lie  in  his  path  are  more  difficult  to  overcome. 


4  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

WHERE  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  LIVE 

ONE  out  of  every  thirteen  veterans  of  World  War  II  is  a  Negro. 
Of  the  1,154,486  Negro  veterans  1,029,946,  or  89  per  cent, 
have  their  homes  either  in  the  thirteen  Southern  states  or  the  bisr 
urban  centers  of  the  North.  Almost  two-thirds  of  them  are  in  the 
South,  with  twice  as  many  in  the  cities  and  small  towns  as  are 
on  the  farms.  Of  the  26  per  cent  in  the  North,  almost  all  are 
crowded  in  the  confines  of  the  overpopulated  Negro  districts. 
A  recent  study  pointed  out  that  if  all  the  population  of  the  coun- 
try were  as  concentrated  as  the  Negro  population  is  in  Harlem, 
the  entire  140,000,000  men,  women,  and  children  in  America 
could  live  in  New  York  City. 

Northward  Migration 

Negro  veterans  have  been  moving  from  the  South  to  the  North 
and  West  since  V-J  Day.  Approximately  one  out  of  every  ten 
Negro  veterans,  or  some  75,000,  has  left  the  South.  The  main 
reasons  for  this  migration  have  been: 

1.  The  lack  of  jobs  that  pay  over  $20  weekly. 

2.  The  lack  of  a  sense  of  "belonging"  to  Southern  communi- 

ties. 

3.  The  lack  of  schools  and  training  facilities 

4.  The  lack  of  recreational  facilities. 

5.  The  lack  of  housing. 

6.  The  promise  of  greater  opportunity  in  the  North  and  West. 

7.  The  promise  of  new  industrial  development  in  the  West. 

8.  The  promise  of  greater  "equality"  in  the  North. 

9.  The  desire  to  see  the  country. 

1  o.  The  desire  for  a  change  of  any  kind. 

Restless,  ambitious,  with  a  newly  acquired  sense  of  mobility, 
young  Negro  veterans  have  migrated  chiefly  to  the  West.  Almost 
inevitably,  however,  they  have  gravitated  to  cities  where  they 
trade  the  slow-moving  undercurrent  of  Southern  frustration  for 
the  hemmed-in  restriction  of  the  Negro  ghetto.  Trusting  only 
members  of  their  own  race,  Negro  veterans  seek  other  Negroes 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  5 

when  they  migrate.  Yet,  for  all  of  the  overcrowded,  slum-filled 
conditions  they  find  in  Northern  cities,  Negro  veterans  probably 
have  a  greater  chance  there  of  attaining  security  and  opportunity 
than  they  did  in  their  previous  homes. 

Most  of  the  Negro  veterans  will  undoubtedly  remain  in  the 
South.  They  will  stay  there  because  in  most  cases  they  were  born 


LOCATION  OF  NEGRO  VETERANS 

(Each  dot  represents  approximately  1 0,000  negro  veterans.) 


11% 
SCATTERED 

THROUGHOUT 
COUNTRY 


63% 

IN  13 

SOUTHERN 
STATES 


there  and  have  family  attachments  and  responsibilities  there. 
Most  of  them  are  unable  to  afford  moving  to  another  part  of 
the  country.  In  many  cases,  they  live  in  such  ignorance  and 
poverty  that  they  never  even  consider  the  possibility  of  moving. 
A  considerable  number  of  Negroes  believe  that  the  colored  people 
should  remain  in  the  South  and  "see  it  through."  More  progres- 
sive Negroes  hold,  however,  that  their  only  hope  as  a  race  lies 
in  a  widespread  scattering  to  all  parts  of  the  country  where 
assimilation  and  acceptance  will  come  more  readily.  The  latter 
group  may  be  right  in  evaluating  the  best  interests  of  their  people. 
But  the  bulk  of  the  Negro  veterans  face  an  uncertain  future 
south  of  the  Mason-Dixon  line. 


6  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

Where  Negro  Veterans  Are  Concentrated 

Apart  from  Washington,  D.  C,  where  they  constitute  25  per 
cent  of  the  veteran  population,  Negro  veterans  are  most  heavily 
concentrated  in  the  following  states,  where  the  percentage  of 
veterans  who  are  Negro  is  as  shown:  Louisiana,  27.6  per  cent; 
Alabama,  24  per  cent;  Florida,  22.7  per  cent;  Georgia,  21.4  per 
cent;  Mississippi,  38.5  per  cent;  and  South  Carolina,  28.1  per 
cent.  These  figures  are  to  be  contrasted  with  the  over-all  per- 
centage of  only  7.7  per  cent  of  Negro  personnel  in  the  armed 
forces.  It  is  in  these  areas  that  the  greatest  number  of  lynchings 
of  Negro  veterans  have  taken  place;  it  is  here  that  the  most 
Negro  veterans  are  unemployed;  that  the  poorest  educational 
facilities  exist;  and  segregation  is  most  drastically  enforced.  Here 
also  exists  the  greatest  amount  of  poverty.  There  are  large  num- 
bers of  Negroes  in  North  Carolina,  New  York,  and  Texas,  but 
in  these  latter  states  the  ratio  of  whites  to  Negroes  is  higher  and 
the  level  of  living  is  slightly  less  depressed. 

The  Challenge 

The  problems,  then,  which  the  Negro  veterans  must  face— 
and  which  all  America  must  solve  if  we  are  to  meet  our  obliga- 
tion of  citizenship  to  over  a  million  men  and  women  who  served 
in  World  War  II— are  the  problems  which  the  South  and  the 
urban  centers  of  the  North  raise.  Each  is  peculiar  unto  itself, 
steeped  in  the  traditions  and  folkways  of  the  region.  The  pace 
in  each  is  different.  The  degree  of  progress  is  different.  But  the 
central  issue  is  the  same  in  all  areas:  How  can  economic  and 
educational  discrimination  be  ended  in  our  lifetime? 


WARTIME  GAINS 

LIKE  all  of  the  men  who  fought  in  the  recent  war,  Negro 
veterans  came  back  home  with  a  wide  range  of  experience.  Over 
two-thirds  of  those  in  the  Army  had  been  overseas  and  had  seen 
the  way  people  of  other  lands  live.  Many  had  been  to  France 
and  England  where  they  had  been  accepted  by  civil  populations 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  7 

without  discrimination.  Many  were  embittered  over  the  menial 
tasks  to  which  they  had  been  assigned.  They  resented  being  kept 
from  combat  after  having  sailed  to  the  battlefronts.  In  the  Army 
over  70  per  cent  of  all  overseas  Negro  troops  were  assigned  to 
unskilled  duties  behind  the  lines;  in  the  Navy  90  per  cent  were 
assigned  to  such  tasks  as  stewards,  cooks,  mess  boys,  and  seamen. 
Yet  they  had  moved  out  of  their  homes  and  seen  new  faces 
and  new  habits  for  the  first  time.  They  had  learned  many  new 
skills  which  could  be  applied  to  civilian  life.  Although  Negro 
veterans  found  conditions  at  home  no  worse  than  when  they 
went  away  to  war,  they  were  far  more  restless  and  dissatisfied 
when  they  returned  to  civilian  life. 

Among  Negro  Civilians 

In  the  North,  particularly  in  the  Northeast  and  Midwest, 
there  was  greater  prosperity  among  Negroes  than  ever  before. 
More  skilled  jobs  were  being  held  down  by  Negroes;  wage  rates 
were  higher;  and  public  indignation  against  discrimination  had 
grown.  The  Negro  had  shown  himself  to  be  able  and  skilled  as 
a  worker,  and  nothing  has  done  more  to  help  his  status  than 
this  demonstration  of  competence.  Scarcely  a  public  official  in 
the  North  could  afford  openly  to  look  down  upon  the  Negro 
people.  There  was  tension  in  the  great  urban  centers  where 
Negro  districts  were  spilling  into  formerly  all-white  districts, 
where  overcrowded  living  conditions  gave  outlet  to  latent  preju- 
dices. But  there  had  been  a  definite  and  important  improvement 
in  race  relations. 

The  Fight  for  Citizenship 

In  the  South,  the  traditional  caste  system  was  feeling  the  effect 
of  Northern  protest.  A  larger  number  of  Southern  whites  and 
Negroes— many  of  them  veterans— were  becoming  conscious  of 
the  injustice  of  the  traditional  pattern  of  segregation,  though  the 
group  was  still  a  small  minority.  The  South  as  a  whole  was  be- 
coming conscious  of  the  race  problem  instead  of  merely  accepting 
the  double  standard.  A  wave  of  violence  swept  the  least  enlight- 
ened areas. 


8  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

During  the  height  of  the  primaries  in  1946,  at  which  Negro 
veterans  took  the  lead  in  bringing  out  a  record  Negro  vote,  six 
Negro  veterans  were  lynched.  All  six  slayings  occurred  between 
July  20  and  August  8,  1946.  In  addition,  a  number  of  colored 
veterans  disappeared  around  registration  time  in  the  fifteen 
Southern  states.  Many  left  the  region  because  of  threats;  the 
bodies  of  others  were  found  floating  in  the  Mississippi  River  or 
mutilated  in  the  woods. 

The  South  was  reacting  to  the  postwar  protest,  as  it  had  after 
the  first  World  War:  resisting  the  general,  nation-wide  rise  in 
living  conditions  among  Negroes,  attempting  desperately  to  hold 
color  lines  fast.  But  many  white  veterans  as  well  as  their  Negro 
comrades-in-arms  had  broadened  their  outlook.  With  distances 
shortened,  with  widespread  use  of  aircraft  and  modern  com- 
munications, the  more  liberal  and  less  discriminatory  North  was 
moving  physically  closer  to  and  having  greater  influence  on  the 
South. 

WHAT  THE  NEGRO  VETERAN  WANTS 

THE  way  in  which  the  white  South  and  the  North  allow  the 
Negro  veteran  to  exercise  his  rights  as  a  citizen  will  shape  the 
whole  future  of  the  Negro  in  America  for  this  generation.  The 
needs  of  Negro  veterans  are  essentially  the  needs  of  all  Negroes, 
but  the  veterans  have  a  greater  chance  of  fulfilling  them.  A 
special  survey  of  some  sixty-seven  communities,  mainly  in  the 
South,  reflects  the  special  problems  of  the  Negro  veteran  and 
the  difficulties  he  faces  in  solving  them.  The  accompanying  chart 
points  up,  for  example,  the  difference  between  opportunities  for 
white  and  Negro  veterans. 

Housing 

Although  housing  for  Negro  veterans  has  had  a  relatively  low 
priority,  Negro  veterans  need  houses  more  than  any  group  in 
the  population.  But  the  shortage  of  homes  has  been  no  more 
acute  than  the  shortage  in  jobs— that  is,  real  jobs  paying  more 
than  $20  a  week.  And,  until  they  can  find  jobs  with  decent 
wages,  Negroes  simply  cannot  afford  to  buy  homes  or  pay  higher 
rentals. 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 


MAJOR  PROBLEMS  OF  VETERANS 


ALL  VETERANS 


S" 


NEED  M 

HOUSING      28%  d    U 


<$ 


NEED 

GOOD  JOBS     26%! 


u  n  x  I  f 


T7^Q.V    ' 

□ 

t 

D 

!  NEED  GUIDANCE    22% J 


NEED 
EDUCATIONAL 

FACILITIES  18%I 


NEED  I 

ADJUSTMENT  TO  COMMUNITY      7%1 


NEED  RECREATIONAL  FACILITIES 


NEGRO  VETERANS 

1  I  10% 

*♦♦♦*♦' 
Mr 

Mi 

Ml 

f  5% 


31% 


20% 


118% 


HARRY  A.  HERZOG,  FOR  THE  PUBLIC  AFFAIRS  COMMITTEE,  INC. 


Jobs 

It  is  distressing  to  find  jobs  the  number  one  problem  of  Negro 
veterans  at  a  period  when  employment  in  the  nation  is  soaring 
to  new  heights.  The  reason  is  twofold:  first,  Negro  veterans 
want  jobs  that  are  more  than  menial ;  second,  most  employers  and 
many  unions  refuse  to  lift  racial  barriers  to  employment.  Negro 
veterans  want  to  develop  skills,  to  get  better  jobs.  The  Negro 
veteran  has  not  only  been  unable  to  find  better  jobs,  but  he  has 
had  no  place  to  go  for  advice  on  where  to  seek  them. 


10  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

Education  and  Training 

Where  Negro  veterans  have  sought  to  enter  college  under  the 
GI  Bill,  or  have  attempted  to  find  an  on-the-job  or  on-the-farm 
training  program,  they  have  found  that  the  educational  and 
training  facilities  were  overcrowded,  understaffed,  or  simply 
nonexistent.  The  overcrowding  encountered  by  the  1,800,000 
veterans  who  have  applied  for  schools  has  been  particularly 
serious  for  Negro  veterans.  Most  white  colleges  have  strict  quotas 
for  Negroes,  and  Negro  colleges  are  small  and  few  in  number. 

For  practical  purposes,  Negro  veterans  have  been  treated  as 
second-class  citizens,  regardless  of  their  rights  under  the  law. 

GOOD  JOBS—NO.  I   NEED 

DESPITE  the  handicaps  listed  above,  the  Negro  veterans  have 
many  advantages  never  before  enjoyed  by  a  large  Negro  group. 
They  have  been  aided  tremendously  by  the  GI  Bill  of  Rights, 
particularly  the  provision  of  fifty-two  weeks  of  unemployment 
compensation  at  $20  weekly.  Without  this  readjustment  allow- 
ance, Negro  veterans  would  probably  have  been  forced  to  return 
to  their  old  jobs  as  menial  workers  at  wages  of  ten  to  fifteen 
dollars  weekly.  Actually  only  15  per  cent  of  all  Negro  veterans  re- 
turned to  the  jobs  they  had  prior  to  the  war.  Those  on  farms 
did  not  want  to  go  back  to  a  sharecropper's  existence.  Those  in 
small  towns  working  in  unskilled  jobs  in  mills  or  in  low-paying 
cigarette  factories  wanted  a  future  with  greater  promise.  The 
"52-20  club,"  as  the  veterans  call  the  unemployment  compen- 
sation, has  given  Negro  veterans  an  opportunity  to  look  around 
before  taking  a  job. 

Many  Negro  soldiers  and  sailors  visited  war-boom  cities  while 
in  the  armed  forces.  They  talked  with  many  of  the  Negro  workers 
who  had  been  up-graded  and  had  learned  skills  in  war  produc- 
tion. Negro  war  workers  jumped  from  a  total  of  .6  per  cent  to 
6  per  cent  in  skilled  categories  in  the  two  years  from  1942  to 
1944.  In  the  industrialized  North,  Negro  veterans  knew  that 
precedents  had  been  broken,  that  some  of  the  race  barriers  to 
employment  had  been  broken  down.  They  were  determined  to 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 


11 


obtain  good  jobs  or  the  training  that  would  eventually  provide 
them  with  better  employment.  The  "52-20  club"  permitted  them 
to  wait  it  out. 

For  the  first  year  after  V-J  Day,  an  average  of  approximately 
15  per  cent  of  all  Negro  veterans  were  receiving  unemployment 
compensation.  But  this  does  not  take  into  account  the  nearly 
35  per  cent  who  shifted  their  jobs  every  few  months. 


Jobs  Aplenty — At  Low  Pay 

In  forty-one  out  of  sixty-seven  towns  and  cities  surveyed,  the 
desire  for  better  jobs  ranked  first  among  all  needs.  In  most  places 
Negro  veterans  have  found  only  menial  old-line  Negro  jobs 
offered.  In  Arkansas,  for  example,  95  per  cent  of  the  placements 
made  by  the  USES  for  Negroes  were  for  service  and  unskilled 
jobs.  A  survey  in  Georgia  concludes,  "Jobs  are  aplenty  but  at 
low  pay  and  in  unattractive  work.  In  town  after  town,  it  is 
being  found  that  Negro  veterans  are  being  offered  jobs  at  twelve, 
fifteen,  eighteen,  or  twenty-odd  dollars  a  week.  A  large  propor- 
tion of  the  men  can  show  industrial  or  army  experience  at  work 
better  than  common  labor,  and  they  are  therefore  entitled  to 
draw  the  readjustment  allowances.  This  is  'rocking  chair'  money." 
Even  in  the  West,  where  many  Negro  veterans  have  gone  in 
the  hope  of  better  wages,  figures  for  October  1946  showed  12 
per  cent  of  Negro  veterans  were  receiving  unemployment  com- 


12 


OUR  NEGRO  YETERANS 


pensation.  For  the  first  half  of  1 946,  unemployment  ran  1 1  per 
cent  higher  among  former  Negro  service  men  than  it  did  among 
white  veterans. 

On  the  whole,  Negro  veterans  have  been  accepted  in  new 
small  businesses  rather  than  large  ones.  In  industries  which  have 
large  plant  units,  race  lines  are  usually  settled;  a  firm  policy  of 


IN  THE  BUILDING  TRADES 

OUT  OF  EVERY  EIGHT  NEGROES  EMPLOYED 


SEVEN 

ARE  EMPLOYED 

AT  UNSKILLED  LABOR 


HARRY  A.  HERZOG,  FOR  THE  PUBLIC  AFFAIRS  COMMITTEE,  INC. 

nonemployment  is  normal.  But  many  small  shops  in  new  indus- 
tries, particularly  in  the  service  and  repair  fields,  have  success- 
fully employed  Negro  veterans. 


Discrimination  in  the  Building  Trades 

An  example  of  an  industry  which  badly  needs  skilled  workers 
but  bars  Negro  veterans  is  the  building  trades.  With  a  construc- 
tion boom  of  unprecedented  proportions,  the  industry  needs  some 
1,500,000  workers.  There  are  thousands  of  trained  Negro  con- 
struction workers  who  were  electricians,  plumbers,  sheet  metal 
workers,  carpenters,  and  other  mechanics  in  the  Army  and  Navy. 
Yet,  except  for  work  as  common  laborers  and  hod-carriers,  Negro 
veterans  are  virtually  banned  from  the  industry.  Only  four  cities 
out  of  twenty-one  surveyed  by  J.  A.  Thomas  of  the  National 
Urban  League  had  an  adequate  training  program  for  veterans 
in  the  building  trades. 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  13 

Take,  for  example,  Negro  carpenters.  Although  more  than 
24,000  of  them  were  trained  in  the  Army,  not  more  than  5  per 
cent  of  these  have  been  employed  as  carpenters  since  returning 
to  civilian  life.  The  discriminatory  practices  of  the  AFL  craft 
unions  is  chiefly  responsible  for  the  inability  of  Negro  veterans 
to  find  skilled  jobs  in  the  building  trades.  Chief  offenders  are  the 
International  Brotherhood  of  Electrical  Workers  and  the  United 
Association  of  Journeymen,  Plumbers,  and  Steamfitters  which 
virtually  shut  out  all  Negroes  from  membership.  These  unions 
serve  as  hiring  agents  in  their  trades.  Continuation  of  their  policy 
of  discrimination  automatically  cuts  off  all  Negro  veterans  from 
these  jobs.  If  the  construction  industry  were  to  expand  its  labor 
force  to  its  full  needs,  it  alone  could  furnish  employment  for 
almost  all  Negro  veterans.  The  outlook,  however,  is  a  dismal 
one.  The  building  industry  will  continue  to  hang  out  a  shingle 
which  says  "No  Negroes  wanted  here." 

Apprentice  Training 

In  view  of  the  lack  of  skilled  and  semiskilled  labor  in  the 
South,  Negro  veterans  are  seeking  training  in  trades.  They  are 
particularly  anxious  to  enroll  in  an  apprenticeship  or  on-the-job 
training  program.  Part  of  this  demand  for  job  training  comes 
from  the  failure  to  find  decent  full-time  employment.  Part  is  a 
positive  desire  for  self-improvement  and  a  better  life.  Successful 
apprentice-training  programs  have  been  set  up  for  carpenters, 
plasterers,  and  brickmasons.  In  each  case,  the  program  has  been 
worked  out  because  strong  Negro  locals  of  unions  have  pushed 
the  training.  Three  Southern  cities— Memphis,  New  Orleans,  and 
Augusta— have  developed  a  significant  apprentice  program  in 
these  three  trades.  In  the  North,  Boston,  Chicago,  New  York, 
and  Philadelphia  have  begun  apprentice  programs.  This  appren- 
tice training  can  be  considered  a  success  only  in  comparison  with 
the  dearth  of  opportunity  for  the  training  of  Negroes  that  previ- 
ously existed.  Even  in  the  best  programs,  white  veterans  have 
outnumbered  Negro  veterans  about  fifty  to  one.  In  electrical, 
sheet  metal,  plumbing,  machinist,  and  other  crafts,  no  Negro 
veterans  are  receiving  apprentice  training.  As  long  as  the  federal 
and  state  governments'   apprentice-training  divisions  refuse  to 


14  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

give  special  consideration  to  locating  Negro  veterans  in  training 
programs,  and  as  long  as  unions  and  employers  pursue  a  policy 
of  shutting  out  all  Negroes,  apprentice  training  will  not  be  a 
real  hope  for  thousands. 

On-the-Job  Training 

Potentially  the  most  valuable  provision  of  the  GI  Bill  for 
Negro  veterans  is  on-the-job  training.  This  training  is  not  limited 
to  the  crafts  as  is  the  apprentice  training,  and  the  government 
pays  the  veteran  a  subsistence  allowance  while  he  is  learning  a 
job.  The  record,  however,  is  not  impressive.  Out  of  a  total  of 
102,200  receiving  on-the-job  training  in  twelve  Southern  states, 
only  7,700  were  Negroes.  Only  one  out  of  twelve  veterans  re- 
ceiving this  training  is  a  Negro,  although  one  veteran  out  of 
three  in  the  area  is  colored.  A  major  obstacle  to  the  develop- 
ment of  job-training  programs  for  Negroes  has  been  the  attitude 
of  state  departments  of  education,  who  have  to  approve  all 
programs.  Many  of  these  departments  have  followed  tradition 
in  conceiving  of  all  training  programs  and  schooling  as  being 
segregated,  and  have  assumed  that  the  on-the-job  training- 
program  is  "for  whites  only."  The  programs  that  have  been  most 
successful  for  Negroes  have  been  in  small  repair  and  maintenance 
shops  employing  small  numbers  of  men,  where  each  individual 
has  a  better  chance  of  being  judged  as  an  individual  according 
to  his  ability  and  capacity  to  learn  rather  than  by  the  color  of 
his  skin. 

On-the-Farm  Training 

On-the-farm  training  has  been  even  less  successful.  It  has 
usually  been  limited  to  owners  and  tenants,  while  most  Negro 
veterans  come  from  families  who  are  either  sharecroppers  or 
laborers.  The  program  is  highly  decentralized  and  the  white 
landholding  interests  who  direct  the  training  in  many  areas  do 
not  seem  to  be  inclined  to  train  Negroes  to  operate  farms  which 
they  might  some  day  own.  Out  of  28,000  veterans  who  have 
received  on-the-farm  training  in  the  South,  only  3,500,  or  ap- 
proximately 1 1  per  cent,  are  Negro  veterans.  Thus,  only  1  per 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  15 

cent  of  the  350,000  Negro  veterans  who  were  drafted  from 
farms  have  received  training  for  this  vocation  at  government 
expense. 

Vocational  and  Trade  Schools 

Vocational  and  trade  schools  also  present  a  disappointing  pic- 
ture. A  survey  of  fifty  key  cities,  by  the  Urban  League  revealed 
that  only  eleven  cities  had  any  formal  vocational  or  technical 
training  facilities.  Only  Baltimore,  Maryland,  and  Washington, 
D.  C,  among  those  cities  with  segregated  school  systems,  had 
satisfactory  schools  which  Negro  veterans  could  attend.  In  cities 
where  color  lines  were  not  drawn,  Negro  veterans  were  able  to 
attend  only  the  industrial  arts  departments  of  high  schools.  These 
give  only  a  general  training  which  is  not  applicable  to  a  specific 
job.  Negro  veterans  attending  trade  schools  have  been  particu- 
larly anxious  to  get  training  in  radio  and  electrical  work,  machine 
shop  and  mechanics,  business  training,  carpentry  and  woodwork, 
and  commercial  photography.  These  trades  have  been  almost 
entirely  closed  to  Negroes. 

Substandard  Courses 

Because  of  the  limited  training  opportunities,  a  number  of 
individuals  and  groups  have  set  up  special  vocational  training 
courses  for  Negro  veterans.  Although  these  courses  have,  in  every 
case,  been  approved  by  the  Department  of  Education  in  the 
respective  states,  it  is  doubtful  if  many  of  them  meet  minimum 
standards  for  this  type  of  training.  In  the  absence  of  other  oppor- 
tunities, the  Negro  veteran  may  easily  be  exploited. 

In  view  of  these  conditions,  it  can  be  readily  understood  why 
so  many  Negro  veterans  have  remained  in  the  "52-20  clubs." 
Shut  out  of  industry  after  industry,  offered  only  old-line  Negro 
jobs  at  low  pay,  unable  to  obtain  a  workable  job-training 
program,  it  is  surprising  that  the  Negro  veterans  have  not  given 
up  the  struggle  for  advancement.  But  most  of  them  are  patiently 
seeking  to  take  advantage  of  each  new  job  opening,  each  new 
opportunity  to  become  better  citizens.  The  responsibility  lies  with 
white  America  to  see  that  the  gates  of  economic  opportunity  are 
opened  to  Negroes. 


16  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 


HOMES  FOR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

ALL  veterans  agree  there  is  no  place  like  home— if  you  have  one. 
The  housing  situation  remains  acute  for  4,000,000  veterans.  It 
is  worse  for  Negro  veterans.  Not  more  than  100,000  Negro 
veterans  can  afford  to  pay  for  the  homes  built  under  the  Veterans 
Emergency  Housing  Program.  In  the  South,  for  every  four  units 
being  constructed  for  white  veterans,  only  one  is  being  built  for 
Negro  veterans  although  the  ratio  of  white  to  Negro  veterans 
is  two  to  one. 

The  Negro  veteran  in  the  South  is  eager  both  to  buy  and  to 
rent  new  homes.  This  is  probably  a  reflection  of  his  discontent 
with  life  in  his  prewar  home  as  compared  with  life  in  Army 
barracks.  It  is  part  of  his  general  feeling  of  unrest  and  the  desire 
for  a  change  for  the  better  which  affects  all  Negro  veterans. 
The  Negro  veteran  cannot  afford,  on  the  average,  however,  more 
than  $30  or  $35  a  month  rent,  nor  a  purchase  price,  on  the 
average,  over  $4,000.  Since  it  is  impossible  to  build  for  less  than 
$6,500  and  to  rent  new  houses  at  less  than  $60  per  month,  the 
Negro  veteran  must  look  to  public,  low-cost  housing  for  housing 
within  his  means.  This  will  continue  to  be  the  case  until  the 
general  income  level  of  Negro  veterans  is  raised  to  the  level  of 
other  veterans. 

Negro  veterans  by  and  large  have  not  been  able  to  buy  houses 
at  the  high  prices  which  have  prevailed  since  V-J  Day.  They 
need  rental  housing— at  low  rents.  That  the  need  of  Negroes 
for  housing  is  more  acute  than  that  of  the  general  public  is  borne 
out  in  the  1940  general  housing  census.  This  showed  that  while 
the  house  of  one  white  family  out  of  four  was  substandard,  one 
Negro  family  out  of  three  had  substandard  housing. 

Government-sponsored  low-cost  housing  projects,  which  offer 
rentals  within  the  present  price  range  of  Negro  veterans,  un- 
doubtedly offer  the  greatest  hope.  But  if  wartime  governmental 
policy  is  any  indication,  Negro  veterans  may  not  obtain  their 
share  of  such  housing.  In  the  building  of  defense  housing,  only 
2  per  cent  of  the  units  were  allocated  to  Negro  families.  Of  the 
200,000  public  units  which  Congress  authorized  to  be  built  in 
1 946-1 947,  Negro  veterans  will  do  well  to  get  10,000  or  15,000. 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 


17 


Discrimination  in  Housing  Costs 

Rents  have  jumped  more  for  Negro  dwellings  since  1936 
than  for  white.  Today,  the  Negro  veteran  and  his  family  receive 
considerably  less  for  their  housing  dollars  than  the  white  veteran 
or  any  group  in  the  white  population.  This  can  be  readily  seen 
in  the  overpopulated  Negro  ghettos  of  Northern  cities  and  the 


VETERANS'  HOUSING  IN  THE  SOUTH 


dJ  LnJ  LoJ  Ln 


FOR  EVERY  FOUR  UNITS  BEING 
CONSTRUCTED  FOR  WHITE  VETERANS, 


ALTHOUGH  THE  RATIO  OF  WHITE  TO  NEGRO  VETERANS  IS  TWO  TO  ONE 


HARRY  A.  HERZOG.  FOR  THE  PUBLIC  AFFAIRS  COMMITTEE,  INC 


increased  population  in  the  Negro  districts  of  Southern  com- 
munities. 

Steep  increases  in  rents  are  not  the  only  disadvantage  Negro 
veterans  have  to  face  in  meeting  their  housing  needs.  In  every 
kind  of  home  financing  with  the  exception  of  government-spon- 
sored HOLG  and  FHA  mortgages,  Negroes  have  had  to  pay 
higher  interest  rates.  And,  in  many  cases,  commercial  banking 
institutions  have  used  high  interest  rates  as  a  means  of  enforcing 
restrictive  covenants  for  keeping  Negroes  out  of  predominantly 
white  areas. 

As  Dr.  Frank  Home,  director  of  the  Race  Relations  Division 
of  the  National  Housing  Agency,  has  pointed  out:  "The  privilege 
of  being  a  Negro  comes  at  a  high  premium  in  the  current  real- 
estate  and  financial  market." 


18  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

Fewer  New  Houses 

Current  plans  for  veterans'  housing  in  eight  Southern  states 
allot  only  21  per  cent  of  the  new  homes  to  Negroes  although 
one-third  of  the  veteran  population  is  Negro.  Tennessee  is  the 
only  state  where  the  proportion  of  houses  for  Negro  veterans 
exceeds  the  proportion  of  Negroes  among  the  veterans.  Mem- 
phis, Tennessee,  with  3,500  out  of  8,500  homes  planned  for 
Negro  veterans;  Meridian,  Mississippi,  with  800  out  of  2,000 
units  available  to  Negroes;  and  Jackson,  Mississippi,  with  1,000 
out  of  3,000  for  Negro  veterans  have  the  best  record  among  the 
Southern  cities. 

The  immediate  future  for  Negro  veterans'  housing  lies  in  low- 
cost  housing  projects  and  in  the  development  of  inexpensive 
prefabricated  homes.  But  in  the  long  run  the  fundamental  solu- 
tion lies  in  raising  the  wage  scale  so  that  Negro  veterans,  and  all 
Negroes,  can  afford  to  pay  the  costs  of  decent  housing. 


EDUCATION 

THE  educational  benefits  under  the  GI  Bill,  along  with  on-the- 
job  training,  are  among  the  most  substantial  benefits  provided 
for  veterans  of  World  War  II.  But  once  again,  Negro  veterans 
have  been  prevented,  through  discrimination,  segregation,  and 
second-class  facilities,  from  obtaining  the  advantages  which  are 
theirs  under  the  law.  Out  of  100,000  Negro  veterans  who  are 
eligible  to  attend  college  under  the  GI  bill,  only  20,000  have 
been  able  to  obtain  admittance.  Another  15,000  applied  but  were 
unable  to  find  a  college  or  university  which  had  room  for  them. 
It  is  estimated  that  if  there  were  space,  another  50,000  would 
have  applied  for  higher  education.  Upwards  of  70  per  cent  of 
the  Negro  veterans  who  have  succeeded  in  enrolling  in  colleges 
are  attending  all-Negro  institutions. 

Those  who  are  attending  college  are  specializing  for  the  most 
part  in  education,  social  work,  and  social  services.  It  is  in  these 
fields  that  Negro  college  graduates  traditionally  have  been  able 
to  find  employment.  In  the  past,  few  Negroes  have  taken  up 
engineering,  chemistry,  physics,  law,  and  medicine.  Today,  how- 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  19 

ever,  there  are  signs  of  greater  diversity  among  the  interests  of 
veterans  in  Negro  colleges— one  more  indication  that  Negroes  are 
beginning  to  demand  the  right  to  full  citizenship  in  every  walk 
of  life. 

Some  of  the  Obstacles 

Chief  sources  of  difficulty  for  Negro  veterans  who  want  a 
college  education  are:  the  lack  of  physical  plant,  difficulties  in 
obtaining  surplus  materials,  strict  quotas  adhered  to  by  most 
Northern  universities,  and  the  inadequacy  of  governmental  allot- 
ments. As  with  all  universities,  housing  is  the  number  one  shortage 
of  Negro  colleges.  The  National  Housing  Agency  helped  by  pro- 
viding some  6,000  dwelling  units  to  Negro  colleges  in  the  fall 
and  winter  of  1946-47.  Shortages  of  equipment  have  prevented 
one-third  of  all  Negro  colleges  from  admitting  more  veterans. 
The  inability  of  the  colleges  to  outbid  noneducational  buyers  for 
laboratory  equipment  in  War  Assets  Administration  sales  has 
seriously  curtailed  the  courses  in  the  physical  sciences  available 
to  Negro  veterans.  Classroom  space  has  been  another  limiting 
factor.  A  number  of  colleges  report  a  shortage  of  recreational 
equipment. 

A  survey  of  twenty-one  of  the  leading  Negro  colleges,  with 
a  total  veteran  enrolment  of  11,043,  showed  that  55  per  cent 
of  all  veteran  applicants  had  to  be  turned  away  because  of  a 
lack  of  space.  Among  veterans  as  a  whole,  approximately  28  per 
cent  were  turned  away  for  lack  of  space.  The  loss  of  potential 
leadership  as  a  result  of  these  rejections  is  great.  It  is  unlikely 
that  the  opportunities  which  the  GI  Bill  presents  young  Negroes 
for  higher  education  will  be  duplicated  for  many  years  to  come. 
Fortunately,  veterans  have  seven  years  in  which  to  take  advan- 
tage of  these  benefits.  But  the  casualty  rate  will  be  high. 

Gains 

Despite  the  barriers  whicE  prevent  the  majority  of  eligible 
Negro  veterans  from  receiving  a  college  education,  more  Negro 
youth  are  attending  universities  than  ever  before— 20,000  of  them 
are  ex-GI's.  These  men  and  women,  the  majority  of  whom  are 


20  OUR  NEGRO  YETERANS 

now  veterans,  will  provide  leadership  for  Negroes  in  the  years 
ahead.  If  their  training  is  sufficiently  diversified,  they  can  easily 
become  the  first  generation  of  Negroes  in  American  history  who 
have  furnished  leadership  in  every  field  of  our  nation's  life. 
Much  depends,  however,  upon  the  willingness  of  the  white  ma- 
jority to  allow  these  veterans  to  use  their  capacities  fully.  It  is 
not  enough  to  train  Negro  doctors,  lawyers,  engineers,  physicists, 
and  social  scientists.  They  must  be  offered  the  same  opportunities 
as  are  offered  all  others  in  their  professions. 

DISCRIMINATION  IN  GOVERNMENT 
OPPORTUNITIES 

FEDERAL  laws  give  blanket  benefits  to  veterans.  All  laws 
passed  by  Congress  to  assist  veterans  are  meant  to  apply  to  all 
veterans.  No  federal  legislation  has  ever  exempted  certain  veterans 
from  benefits  because  of  the  color  of  their  skin,  the  religion  to 
which  they  hold,  or  their  ancestral  backgrounds. 

"For  White  Veterans  Only" 

But  the  administration  of  these  laws  is  quite  another  story. 
Consistently,  as  though  the  legislation  were  earmarked  "For 
White  Veterans  Only,"  federal  agencies,  particularly  in  the 
South,  have  discriminated  against  Negroes.  The  chief  govern- 
ment agencies  which  serve  veterans  are  the  Veterans  Administra- 
tion, the  Veterans  Employment  Service,  and  the  Apprentice- 
Training  Divisions  of  the  Department  of  Labor,  the  National 
Housing  Agency,  and  the  Reemployment  and  Retraining  Ad- 
ministration. The  United  States  Employment  Service  was  re- 
turned to  the  states  on  November  15,1 946,  after  wartime  federal 
control. 

Discrimination  by  federal  agencies  can  be  measured  only  in 
terms  of  failure  to  render  adequate  service  to  individual  veterans. 
But  this  is  difficult  to  measure.  Federal  agencies  keep  few  sta- 
tistical records  of  service  according  to  race.  In  the  South,  there 
are  virtually  no  records  of  how  Negro  veterans  have  fared  in 
their  relations  with  their  government's  representatives.   When 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  21 

asked  why  no  accounting  is  made,  the  agencies  correctly  point 
out  that  under  the  law  no  distinction  is  made  between  races. 
But  every  survey  that  has  been  made  points  up  the  lack  of  voca- 
tional and  educational  guidance  facilities  for  Negro  veterans, 
especially  in  the  South.  And  precisely  because  discrimination 
exists,  governmental  agencies  must  statistically  examine  their 
services  to  all  minorities  in  order  that  abuses  may  be  avoided. 
Typical  of  answers  given  by  governmental  administrators  when 
pinned  down  on  this  question  of  discrimination  was  that  of  a 
top  official  in  the  Apprentice-Training  Service  who  said,  "It  is 
not  our  policy  to  approve  or  register  programs  which  would 
exclude  persons  because  of  race  or  religion— but  we  cannot  inter- 
fere with  the  rights  of  employers  and  unions  to  hire  whom  they 
wish." 

White  Personnel  a  Factor 

One  reason  for  the  almost  automatic  discrimination  produced 
by  the  federal  agencies  in  the  South  may  be  found  in  the  em- 
ployment of  almost  exclusively  white  personnel.  In  Atlanta, 
Georgia,  for  example,  only  seven  out  of  1,700  employees  of  the 
Veterans  Administration  are  Negroes;  in  Louisiana,  out  of  700 
employees,  only  three  are  Negroes;  in  Tennessee,  six  out  of  900 
are  Negroes.  Even  in  New  York,  the  only  division  of  the  VA 
which  has  adequate  Negro  representation  is  the  Vocational  and 
Rehabilitation  Section.  An  unofficial  check  showed  no  Negro 
employees  on  the  Merit  Rating  Boards  or  in  the  Legal  and 
Adjudication  Divisions.  In  fact,  only  one  city  in  the  country  was 
found  to  have  Negro  representation  on  the  Merit  Rating  Boards, 
despite  the  many  Negroes  who  must  be  served  there. 

In  the  Veterans  Administration 

In  the  South,  virtually  the  only  Veterans  Administration  offices 
which  are  properly  manned  to  handle  Negro  veterans  are  the 
branch  offices  at  Negro  colleges.  Of  these,  there  are,  on  the 
average,  one  or  two  in  each  state.  Negro  veterans  cannot  be 
expected  to  travel  fifty,  a  hundred,  or  two  hundred  miles  to  go 
to  a  Veterans  Administration  office. 


22 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 


Veterans  with  service-connected  disabilities  or  injuries  are 
promised  treatment  in  Veterans  Administration  Hospitals.  Yet 
twelve  out  of  1 1 6  VA  hospitals  do  not  accept  Negro  veterans 
except  in  emergency  cases.  And  of  the  10,612  Negro  veterans 
hospitalized  in  VA  facilities,  4,379,  or  42  per  cent,  were  being 


OUT  OF  NINE  SELECTED  NEGRO  COLLEGES 


treated  in  segregated  wards.  The  twelve  hospitals  refusing  ad- 
mittance are  located  in  Texas,  Kentucky,  Georgia,  Mississippi, 
Alabama,  Arkansas,  and  Nevada.  There  is  an  all-Negro  hospital 
at  Tuskegee,  Alabama.  A  report  by  the  National  Association 
for  the  Advancement  of  Colored  People  points  out  that  "In 
Army  and  Navy  hospitals,  service  men  are  not  segregated  by 
race,  but  when  the  VA  takes  over  such  a  facility  from  the  Army, 
it  immediately  organizes  the  hospital  according  to  the  'pattern 
of  the  community.'  The  service  men  in  the  hospitals  are  dis- 
charged and  become  veterans  under  a  blanket  order.  Colored 
veterans  are  immediately  moved  to  Jim  Crow  wards  if  the  hos- 
pital is  located  in  the  South."  For  wounded  Negro  service  men, 
the  first  taste  of  civilian  life  is  segregation.  And  they  don't  even 
have  to  get  out  of  bed  to  find  it. 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  23 

Although  top  VA  officials  point  to  the  no-discrimination  pledge 
of  the  agency,  admitted  difficulty  is  encountered  when  enforce- 
ment of  this  policy  is  attempted  on  the  local  level. 

Discrimination  in  the  USES 

Of  the  most  importance  to  the  Negro  veteran  in  terms  of  job 
placement  is  the  United  States  Employment  Service,  which  is  now 
controlled  by  the  states.  While  still  under  federal  control,  the 
USES  did  not  have  a  single  Negro  employee  in  the  states  of 
Louisiana,  Alabama,  Mississippi,  Tennessee,  South  Carolina, 
Arkansas,  and  Texas,  although  more  than  50  per  cent  of  the 
job  applicants  were  Negroes.  Negro  veterans  were  not  allowed 
to  use  the  same  employment  offices  as  white  veterans  in  these 
states.  North  Carolina  is  the  only  Southern  state  which  employs 
a  significant  number  of  Negro  interviewers  and  employment 
officers.  Facilities  for  job  guidance  and  placement  of  Negroes  in 
the  government  employment  offices  certainly  cannot  be  expected 
to  improve  with  the  return  of  this  agency  to  local  autonomy. 
Dependence  upon  Congress  for  funds  might  have  made  some 
federal  agencies  reluctant  to  undertake  a  fair  race-relations 
program,  but  when  these  same  offices  must  appeal  to  state  legis- 
latures, elected  in  the  South  by  a  predominantly  white  electorate, 
the  situation  can  hardly  be  expected  to  improve. 

The  Veterans  Employment  Service,  which  continues  under 
federal  controls,  has  done  little  to  assist  Negro  veterans  with 
skills  in  obtaining  employment.  The  pattern  in  this  agency 
parallels  closely  that  of  the  USES.  Very  few  Negroes  are  em- 
ployed by  the  agency,  and  Negro  veterans  do  not  find  a  welcome 
reception  at  most  of  its  offices  below  the  Mason-Dixon  line. 

The  Race  Relations  Service  of  the 
National  Housing  Administration 

Shortly  after  he  assumed  office  as  National  Housing  Expeditor, 
Wilson  Wyatt  announced  that  his  Veterans  Emergency  Housing 
Program  was  meant  for  "all  veterans— not  just  for  white  vet- 
erans." Early  in  the  program,  which  was  eventually  destroyed 
by  the  removal  of  price  controls,  Wyatt  appointed  Dr.  Frank  S. 


24  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

Home  as  head  of  a  Race  Relations  Service.  The  Race  Relations 
Service  was  designed  to: 

i.  Review  all  policy  statements  for  compliance  with  fair 
standards  for  minorities. 

2.  Develop  techniques  and  methods  essential  to  secure  homes 
for  minority  veterans. 

3.  Effect  equitable  participation  of  minority  groups  in  all 
phases  of  the  housing  program. 

4.  Provide  representation  of  the  Service  in  all  parts  of  the 
Agency. 

5.  Provide  information  to  and  reflect  accurately  all  observa- 
tions of  all  organizations  or  individuals  interested  in  minority 
groups. 

6.  Accumulate  and  release  operational  experience  in  handling 
minority  group  aspects  of  the  program. 

7.  Assist  the  personnel  division  in  securing  positive  application 
of  the  nondiscrimination  policy  of  the  Agency. 

The  section  under  Dr.  Home's  direction  was  a  model  of  what 
services  a  federal  agency  could  offer  minority  veterans.  It  was 
reflected  in  a  generally  better  record  in  housing  for  Negro  veterans 
than  other  agencies  could  show  in  their  fields.  Only  by  recog- 
nizing the  tendency  toward  discrimination  can  a  government 
agency  ever  satisfactorily  meet  the  needs  of  those  less  privileged 
citizens. 

The  Race  Relations  Service  of  the  NHA  can  take  the  lion's 
share  of  the  credit  for  the  record  of  20  per  cent  allocation  of  all 
veterans'  homes  in  the  South  to  Negroes.  Had  the  Wyatt  program 
been  maintained,  Negro  veterans  would  have  made  a  significant 
stride  toward  getting  a  fair  deal  in  housing.  It  is  to  be  hoped 
that  the  Race  Relations  Service  will  continue  in  existence  and 
become  a  model  for  other  agencies. 

Reemployment  and  Retraining  Administration 

Coordinating  over  3,000  Community  Advisory  Centers,  which 
are  financed  and  staffed  on  the  local  level,  is  the  Reemployment 
and  Retraining  Administration.  The  RRA  has  assisted  cities  and 
towns  throughout  the  nation  in  establishing  centers  which  have 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  25 

advised  veterans  on  all  phases  of  their  problems.  For  Negro 
veterans  generally,  the  centers  have  been  of  moderate  value  since 
most  of  their  employees  are  white  and  little  emphasis  has  been 
placed  on  minority  aspects  of  veterans'  problems.  In  the  South, 
the  Community  Advisory  Centers  were  nearly  always  manned 
by  whites.  But  in  October  1946,  General  Graves  B.  Erskine, 
administrator  of  the  agency,  appointed  a  special  advisory  com- 
mittee of  four  Negro  leaders  to  develop  a  race-relations  program 
for  the  Advisory  Centers.  At  least  one  of  these  leaders  is  op- 
timistic over  the  chances  of  introducing  a  race-relations  service 
successfully  in  a  majority  of  the  3,000  communities. 

Progress  Being  Made 

Slowly,  government  agencies  are  beginning  to  provide  services 
for  Negro  veterans.  Step  by  step,  from  the  new  precedents  set 
in  such  agencies  as  the  NHA  and  the  RRA  to  the  relatively  well- 
staffed  USES  offices  of  North  Carolina,  the  official  instruments 
of  the  people  of  America  are  moving  toward  meeting  the  needs 
of  Negro  ex-service  men.  The  outlook  in  the  South  is  still  dismal, 
however,  when  a  Veterans  Administration  office  or  a  Veterans 
Employment  Service  office  is  the  last  place  a  colored  veteran 
will  go. 

Unsolved  Problems 

The  major  obstacles  blocking  full  service  by  federal  agencies 
to  Negro  veterans  are: 

1 .  The  failure  of  top  officials  to  recognize  the  special  difficulties 
of  Negro  veterans. 

2.  The  failure  to  implement  broad  policy  directives  which  hold 
out  pious  promises  of  equal  service. 

3.  The  unwillingness  of  local  officials  of  federal  agencies  to 
take  the  lead  in  establishing  services  to  all  veterans,  regardless 
of  race. 

4.  The  lack  of  participation  by  organized  minority  groups  in 
federal  programs. 

5.  The  reluctance  of  federal  agencies  to  measure  statistically 
the  present  status  of  Negro  veterans,  with  a  view  toward  defining 
their  needs. 


26  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

6.  The  lack  of  minority  personnel  on  the  staff  of  government 
field  offices,  particularly  in  the  South. 

7.  The  lack  of  enabling  legislation  such  as  the  Fair  Employ- 
ment Practices  Act  which  would  allow  federal  agencies  to  enforce 
policies  and  open  up  opportunities  in  local  communities. 

8.  The  lack  of  integration  between  agencies  in  racial  policies, 
so  that  uniform  service  is  rendered. 

On  the  credit  side,  it  should  be  pointed  out  that  the  federal 
agencies  are  in  a  better  position  to  deal  fairly  with  the  Negro 
than  most  local  and  state  agencies,  particularly  in  the  South. 
It  is  an  advantage,  whether  in  the  North  or  South,  to  be  divorced 
from  the  local  attitudes,  direction,  and  control  present  in  almost 
every  community.  The  federal  agencies  are,  in  effect,  the  spokes- 
men for  all  of  the  people  in  every  part  of  the  nation,  whether 
in  Biloxi,  Mississippi,  or  in  Chicago,  Illinois.  Potentially,  these 
federal  agencies  can  serve  the  Negro  veteran  better  than  any 
other  agency. 


THE  POSTWAR  PROTEST 

DESPITE  all  the  restrictions  and  miseries  of  a  disciplined,  segre- 
gated life  in  the  Army  or  Navy,  hundreds  of  thousands  of  Negro 
veterans  found  that  only  in  uniform  did  they  have  warm  cloth- 
ing, good  meals,  adequate  medical  services,  regular  pay,  and 
a  job  that  was  sometimes  exciting.  Civilian  life  simply  did  not 
provide  these  advantages  to  many  Negro  veterans.  Irrespective 
of  their  protests  against  segregation  in  the  Army  and  Navy, 
Negroes  provided  proportionately  more  volunteers  in  the  first 
year  of  the  peace  than  did  any  other  part  of  the  population. 
Although  Negroes  made  up  only  one-thirteenth  of  the  total  num- 
ber who  served  during  the  war,  25  per  cent  of  all  volunteers 
from  September  1945  to  September  1946  were  Negro  veterans. 
Finally,  in  early  September  1946,  the  War  Department  set  a 
quota  on  Negro  enlistments.  This  quota,  supposedly  based  on 
the  over-all  percentage  of  Negroes  in  the  population,  has  re- 
mained intact  despite  vigorous  protests  from  enlightened  groups 
who  saw  in  the  order  the  curtailing  of  still  another  opportunity 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  27 

for  full  participation  by  Negro  veterans.  The  large  percentage 
of  Negroes  who  want  to  reenlist  is  not  so  much  a  commentary 
upon  the  advantages  in  the  armed  forces  as  an  indication  that 
life  back  home  is  still  insecure  and  lacking  in  the  promise  of 
fruitful  living. 

Veterans1  Organizations 

Among  the  Negro  veterans  who  have  not  reenlisted,  migrated, 
or  simply  submitted  to  traditional  caste  patterns,  there  has  been 
a  widespread  desire  to  join  forces  with  their  former  comrades- 
in-arms.  Throughout  the  South  hundreds  of  local  veterans'  clubs 
have  been  set  up  in  small  rural  communities.  Negro  veterans  are 
usually  in  all-Negro  groups.  Although  they  are  mainly  social, 
they  give  the  Negro  veterans  a  sense  of  "belonging"  and  of  hav- 
ing common  strength  to  meet  the  problems  of  adjustment.  For 
the  most  part,  however,  Negro  veterans  have  found  themselves 
not  wanted  as  fully  participating  members  by  such  old-line 
veterans'  organizations  as  the  American  Legion,  the  Veterans  of 
Foreign  Wars,  and  the  Disabled  American  Veterans.  The  only 
opportunity  to  participate  in  these  groups  has  been  in  segregated 
Negro  posts,  according  to  the  "pattern  of  the  community." 

In  response  to  protests  against  their  discriminatory  policies, 
the  leaders  of  the  Legion,  VFW,  and  DAV  say  that  the  Negroes 
"want  it  that  way."  There  is  a  surprising  demand  on  the 
part  of  many  Negro  veterans  to  join  these  old-line  organizations. 
Recently  in  Louisiana,  after  the  Legion  state  department  aban- 
doned its  policy  of  not  admitting  any  Negroes,  some  thirteen 
Negro  posts  were  organized  within  three  weeks.  In  these  cases, 
the  desire  to  be  part  of  a  larger  organization  undoubtedly  counter- 
balances the  hostility  toward  segregation.  Generally,  however, 
Negro  veterans  have  waited  before  joining  a  national  organiza- 
tion, weighing  the  advantages  of  a  small  but  nonsegregated  local 
group  against  those  of  a  large  but  discriminatory  organization. 

The  alternatives  to  membership  in  all-Negro  units  are  as  rare 
as  are  the  small  islands  of  progress  which  exist  throughout  the 
country  for  Negroes  as  a  whole.  The  largest  veterans'  organiza- 
tion with  a  complete  no-discrimination  policy  is  the  American 
Veterans  Committee.  Segregated  chapters,  regardless  of  region, 


28  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

are  not  allowed  by  constitutional  provision  in  the  AVC.  The 
provision  is  strictly  enforced. 

The  national  counterpart  to  the  localized,  all-Negro  veterans' 
groups  which  have  been  formed  chiefly  in  the  South  is  the  United 
Negro  and  Allied  Veterans  of  America  which,  although  claiming 
a  biracial  structure,  is  in  the  main  Negro  in  membership. 

If  the  history  of  Negro  protest  organizations  has  any  meaning, 
its  lesson  lies  in  the  necessity  for  Negroes  to  join  with  whites 
wherever  possible  to  strike  out  for  greater  freedom.  It  is  highly 
improbable  that  Negro  veterans  will  find  fulfillment  of  their 
needs  for  better  jobs  and  social  and  political  advancement  in 
organizations  in  which  segregation  is  either  forced  or  self-imposed. 

CONCLUSIONS 

THERE  are  two  major  sets  of  facts  surrounding  the  life  of 
Negro  veterans  in  America  today :  ( i )  Over  a  million  dark- 
skinned  ex-service  men  are,  by  training,  discipline,  sacrifice,  and 
determination,  prepared  for  integration  into  the  nation's  life  as 
first-class  citizens.  (2)  The  nation  has  almost  universally  failed 
to  grasp  the  enormous  opportunity  which  is  presented  through 
veterans'  benefits  for  this  minority  group.  Whether  or  not  this 
generation  of  Negroes  succeeds  in  gaining  improved  social  and 
economic  conditions,  the  present-day  Negro  veterans  are  the 
leaders  of  their  people.  Full  citizenship  is  demanded  by  Negro 
veterans.  It  can  be  safely  assumed  that  the  majority  will  hold 
to  this  demand  for  the  rest  of  their  lives. 

Whether  the  road  these  veterans  travel  Is  one  of  peaceful 
progress  or  violent  frustration  will  be  determined  in  the  specific 
problems  which  must  be  met  now: 

Jobs 

1.  The  "52-20"  club  is  a  disappearing  cushion  which  does 
not  answer  the  need  for  a  decent  paying  job. 

2.  In  the  position  of  being  the  last-hired  and  first-fired,  the 
stake  of  the  Negro  veteran  in  maintaining  full  employment  is 
high. 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  29 

3.  Negro  veterans  particularly  will  migrate  to  those  areas 
where  some  Negroes  already  serve  as  skilled  workers. 

4.  They  will  continuously  press  for  openings  at  other  than 
unskilled  jobs  until  they  secure  them. 

5.  When  they  are  turned  down  on  the  basis  of  lack  of  train- 
ing, Negro  veterans  will  press  for  greater  on-the-job  training 
facilities,  apprentice-training  opportunities,  and  better  vocational 
and  trade  schools. 

6.  Restrictive  practices  by  employers  and  unions  in  many  in- 
dustries, chiefly  the  building  trades,  will  have  to  be  curtailed 
before  full  participation  by  Negro  veterans  in  the  labor  market 
can  be  obtained. 

Housing 

1.  Negro  veterans  will  continue  to  live  in  substandard  dwell- 
ings until  they  are  economically  able  to  participate  equally  as 
renters  and  buyers  in  the  housing  market. 

2.  Restrictive  covenants,  the  legal  device  to  keep  Negroes  con- 
fined to  urban  ghettos,  should  be  abolished. 

3.  Discriminatory  mortgage  rates  should  be  equalized. 

4.  Greater  quantities  of  low-cost  housing  and  prefabricated 
houses  must  be  made  available  to  Negro  veterans. 

Education 

1 .  Segregated  Negro  colleges  are  neither  well  enough  equipped 
nor  numerous  enough  to  meet  the  demands  of  Negro  veterans 
for  higher  education. 

2.  Quota  systems  in  most  colleges  severely  limit  the  number 
of  Negroes  attending,  and  already  have  forced  at  least  50  per 
cent  of  eligible  Negro  veterans  to  abandon  plans  for  higher 
education. 

3.  The  traditional  pattern  of  entering  the  teaching,  social 
service,  and  social  work  field  is  giving  way  to  greater  diversity 


30  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 

of  study— an  indication  of  the  demand  for  full  citizenship  in  all 
fields. 

Governmental  Opportunities 

i.  Governmental  agencies  excuse  failure  to  service  Negro 
veterans  properly  by  claiming  that  they  would  be  discriminating 
if  they  dealt  specially  with  minority  problems. 

2.  Federal  agencies  fail  to  administer  a  broad  biracial  policy 
on  the  local  level,  particularly  in  the  South. 

3.  Most  agencies  either  have  very  few  or  no  Negro  personnel 
to  staff  Southern  offices,  although  almost  two-thirds  of  all  Negro 
veterans  live  there. 

4.  There  is  little  uniformity  in  over-all  administrative  policy 
in  dealing  with  the  race-relations  aspects  of  veterans'  problems. 

5.  The  National  Housing  Agency,  under  Wilson  Wyatt,  stood 
out  as  a  model  of  what  a  government  bureau  could  do  to  estab- 
lish an  equitable  policy  for  minorities. 


OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS  31 

FOR  FURTHER  READING 

Benedict,  Ruth,  and  Weltfish,  Gene.  The  Races  of  Mankind. 
Public  Affairs  Pamphlet  No.  85.  1946  edition. 

Bolte,  Charles  G.  "He  Fought  for  Freedom,"  Survey  Graphic. 
January,  1947. 

Halsey,  Margaret.  Color  Blind.  New  York,  Simon  &  Schuster. 
1946. 

Myrdal,  Gunnar.  An  American  Dilemma.  New  York,  Harpers. 
1944. 

National  Urban  League.  The  Negro  Veteran.  1946. 

Northrup,  Herbert  R.  Will  Negroes  Get  Jobs  Now?  Public  Affairs 
Pamphlet  No.  no.  1945. 

Southern  Regional  Council.  Studies  of  Negro  Veterans  in  Selected 
Southern  States.  1946. 

Stewart,   Maxwell  S.   The  Negro  in  America.   Public  Affairs 
Pamphlet  No.  95.  1946  edition. 


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Maxwell  S.  Stewart,  Editor  of  the  Pamphlet  Series 

Mabel  C.  Mount,  Assistant  Editor 

Violet  Edwards,  Director  of  Education  and  Promotion 

Gladys  Gunnerson,   Business  Manager 

All  rights  reserved.  No  part  of  this  pamphlet  may  be  reproduced  without  per- 
mission, except  short  passages  of  no  more  than  500  words  in  length  which  may 
be  quoted  by  a  reviewer  or  commentator,  with  furl  credit  to  the  Committee. 
For  permission  to  use  longer  excerpts,  write  to  the  Public  Affairs  Committee' 
Incorporated,   22   East  38th   Street,    New  York    16,    N.  Y. 


First    Edition,    March,    1947 


Printed    in   the   United   States  of  America 


3  2  5\  2  6 


21 2704 


PUBLIC      AFFAIRS      PAMPHLE 


1.    INCOME  AND  ECONOMIC  PROGRESS 

5.    CREDIT  FOR  CONSUMERS 
23.    INDUSTRIAL  PRICE  POLICIES 
25.    MACHINES  AND  TOMORROW'S  WORLD 
27.   WHO  CAN  AFFORD  HEALTH? 

33.  THIS  PROBLEM  OF  FOOD 

34.  WHAT  MAKES  CRIME? 

38.  THE  FIGHT  ON  CANCER 

39.  LOAN  SHARKS  AND  THEIR  VICTIMS 
43.   SAFEGUARDING  OUR  CIVIL  LIBERTIES 
53.    WHAT  IT  TAKES  TO 

MAKE   GOOD    IN   COLLEGE 

61.  INSTALMENT  SELLING— PROS  AND  CONS 

62.  HOW  TO  BUY  LIFE  INSURANCE 

65.  PROSTITUTION  AND  THE  WAR 

66.  HOMES  TO  LIVE  IN 

67.  GOVERNMENT  UNDER  PRESSURE 

69.  VITAMINS  FOR  HEALTH 

70.  WHAT'S  HAPPENING  TO 

OUR  CONSTITUTION? 
76.   WORKERS  AND  BOSSES  ARE  HUMAN 

78.  THE  AIRPLANE  AND  TOMORROW'S  WORLD 

79.  THE  BEVERIDGE  PLAN 

83.    WAR,  BABIES,  AND  THE  FUTURE 

85.  THE  RACES  OF  MANKIND 

86.  WHEN  I  GET  OUT?  WILL  I  FIND  A  JOB? 

89.  HAVE  WE  FOOD  ENOUGH  FOR  ALL? 

90.  THE  AMERICAN  WAY 

93.  FREEDOM  OF  THE  AIR 

94.  RECONVERSION— THE  JOB  AHEAD 

95.  THE  NEGRO  IN  AMERICA 


96.  HOUSES  FOR  TOMORROW 

97.  SOCIAL  WORK  AND  THE  JONESES 

98.  EPILEPSY— THE  GHOST  IS  OUT  OF  TH 

99.  WHAT  FOREIGN  TRADE  MEANS  TO  1 

100.  SMALL  FARM  AND  BIG  FARM 

101.  THE  STORY  OF  BLUE  CROSS 

102.  VETERAN'S  GUIDE 

103.  CARTELS  OR  FREE  ENTERPRISE? 

105.  THERE  CAN  BE  JOBS  FOR  ALL! 

106.  STRAIGHT  TALK  FOR  DISABLED  VETE 

107.  RACE  RIOTS  AREN'T  NECESSARY 

108.  YOUTH  AND  YOUR  COMMUNITY 

109.  GYPS  AND  SWINDLES 

111.  THE  REFUGEES  ARE  NOW  AMERICAN* 

112.  WE  CAN  HAVE  BETTER  SCHOOLS 

113.  BUILDING  YOUR  MARRIAGE* 

114.  WINGS  OVER  AMERICA  * 

115.  WHAT  SHALL  WE  DO  ABOUT  IMMIGfl 

116.  FOR  A  STRONGER  CONGRESS 

117.  YOUR  STAKE  IN  COLLECTIVE  BARGAf 

118.  ALCOHOLISM  IS  A  SICKNESS  || 

119.  SHOULD  THE  GOVERNMENT 

SUPPORT  SCIENCE? 

120.  TOWARD  MENTAL  HEALTH 

121.  RADIO  IS  YOURS 

122.  HOW  CAN  WE  TEACH  ABOUT  SEX?  1 

123.  KEEP  OUR  PRESS  FREE!  , 

124.  WHAT  DO  YOU  KNOW  ABOUT  BLINDll 

125.  WAR  AND  HUMAN  NATURE 

126.  RHEUMATIC  FEVER 

127.  KEEPING  UP  WITH  TEEN-AGERS 

128.  OUR  NEGRO  VETERANS 


PUBLIC  AFFAIRS  COMMITTEE,  Inc. 
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Our  Negro  veterans,  main 
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PAMPHLET  BINDERS 

This  is  No.   1525 

also  carried  in  stock  in  the  following  sizes 

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1530  12  "      9}i      " 

1532  13  "     10 

1533  14  "11 

1534  16  "    12 

Other  sizes  made  to  order. 


HIGH 

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1523 
1524 
1525 
1526 
1527 
1528 

9    inches 
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*K  " 
"»«   " 
ll 

7  inches    hi  inch 
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6 

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